Institute of Reading Development
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Independent Reading

All children need support as they move toward fluent reading. Since every child is unique, the level of assistance needed by entering second graders varies widely. In class, the teacher will guide students’ independent reading in carefully selected books, ensuring that each child gets the appropriate support to succeed as a reader. By doing a lot of independent reading with the right amount of support, second graders consolidate the skills they learned in the first grade and progress smoothly to fluent reading.

In Class

Each week in class, the teacher reads an Easy Reader book aloud, then leads the class in independent practice in the same book. To progress smoothly toward fluency, second graders need to experience successful independent reading. Easy Readers are written specifically for early readers, with controlled vocabulary and manageable sentences. They are also a lot of fun.

As the teacher reads, he or she may encourage the students to look at the pictures and predict what might happen next, but mostly children simply listen to and enjoy the story. Listening to a story read aloud before reading it independently is useful; it is easier for children to read a book on their own when they are familiar with the story.

After hearing the book read aloud, students practice reading independently in the same book. The teacher uses a process called assisted reading to begin each independent reading session. During assisted reading, the teacher reads an entire page, or two facing pages, aloud to the class and students follow along as the teacher reads. After listening to the teacher read, students read the same page or pages to themselves. Hearing the text directly before they read it independently leaves a memory trace to support young readers.

After working through a few pages using assisted reading, the teacher then leads students in guided independent reading. During this time, each student reads at his or her own pace, pausing occasionally for class-wide discussion of the story. Breaking the reading period up in this way helps students pace themselves, build stamina and focus on the meaning of the story. The teacher also provides support on an individual basis, stepping in when a child gets stuck on a word or needs additional assisted reading.

At Home

Independent reading practice is a key component of learning to read, so we encourage parents to make it a regular part of their son or daughter’s schedule. They begin each independent reading session by reading an Easy Reader aloud, as the teacher does in class. Then, the child reads the same book independently.

Children in second grade need varying levels of support for their independent reading. Depending on a child’s needs, parents can use assisted reading, as described above. If their child requires less support, they may simply stay within earshot as their child reads and only step in when he or she asks for help on a difficult word.

Reading allows us to transcend our limitations.